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In his Oral History, U.S. Mir astronaut David Wolf describes helping with some "gooey" housework on Mir.
Wolf relates, "The first day, after the Shuttle left, I noticed Pavel [Vinogradov] . . . sopping up a large amount of condensate on the heat exchangers to the electron unit. . . . We had had troubles; in fact, a complete failure of the condensation-removal system, which is part of the air-conditioning system . . ."
In the microgravity environment of Mir, this failure resulted in "large condensate globs -- bowling-ball size or beach-ball size sometimes --of fluid and water, behind panels, starting to track down the structure and into the wiring." Wolf noted that Vinogradov spent many hours at this work, on that first day of the mission.
Wolf says, "I was trying to think of how I could contribute here . . . and I went up to them and I said, 'You never have to do this again.' He looked at me kind of funny. I said, "I'm doing it. Don't worry. You've got better things to do up here than sop up condensate.'
"I didn't realize what I was getting into," Wolf says, "because it took anywhere from four to eight hours a day, the rest of the mission, every single day except a few."
Wolf points out that, "All of it has to get done, and that was the best thing I could come up with, to free up their time for what they're better at, and be part of the team."
Foale on Doing "Dirty" Work
Life on Mir
Profile: David Wolf
David Wolf Oral History (PDF)
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Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty